The Vocabulary of Salvation – Redemption

Hi guys!! We’re excited to have you here once again. This section of today’s post is dedicated to thanking you guys for sticking with us this long, following every step of the way. The episode on Righteousness was our tenth post!! We couldn’t have made it this far without your support. Looking forward to many more exciting posts on our journey together. Today’s post promises to be an exciting one. We continue with the Vocabulary of Salvation series, placing the spotlight on the word REDEMPTION.

Let’s face it unless you’re an out and out Bible geek you probably went through this week and didn’t use the word even once. And that’s fine, no need to feel bad about that. Today we’re going to examine the word, its range of meanings and as always how it fits into the story of our salvation. Come with me and let’s jump right in.

Redemption refers to the release of people, animals or property upon full payment of a price. The concept of redemption presupposes an existing state of captivity or bondage from which people need to be freed. In the Old Testament, two Hebrew root words are associated with redemption. They are padah and ga’al. Padah means to ransom or literally to pay the ransom price. Like when a family pays the ransom to a kidnapper. Ga’al on the other hand is related to the most common form of redemption in the OT. It literally means to act as a kinsman redeemer. The kinsman redeemer was a close male relative whose job it was to pay the price in full to redeem or get back a piece of family land sold in a time of hardship, an individual who had also sold himself into slavery or had been taken into slavery. According to the law God gave the nation of Israel, land was an inheritance from God and Israelites were tenants of God’s land. As such they were not allowed to permanently sell land outside of the family. If an Israelite however fell on hard times he could sell the use of his land. Every 50th year, the year of jubilee, the land would revert to its original tenant or back to its heirs. Prior to the year of jubilee it was the task of the kinsman redeemer to restore the property to the family. He was to pay the price determined by the holder of the land in full. The role was not limited to immediate family (brother or father). Essentially whoever could redeem a relative should, with the greater responsibility falling on the nearest kin. 

The task of the kinsman redeemer did not spring out of the blue. It had strong ties with what God Himself had done on behalf of the nation of Israel. You see in Genesis 12, God entered a covenant with Abraham to bless him and bless the whole world through him. In that covenant relationship the family of Abraham became God’s people. They were the family of His friend. Several years later this family found themselves in Egypt in a bid to survive a famine that had plagued their world. After the famine subsided they continued to flourish in the land of Egypt and this made the Egyptians fearful. They subjugated Abraham’s family and made them slaves for 420 years. God then appears on the scene to Moses and tells him to tell the nation of Israel that because of his covenant to Abraham their father He has come to redeem them.

Exodus 6:5-6

And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

In a showdown of epic proportions God takes on the entire establishment of Egypt in a bid to redeem his people. God, Israel’s kinsman redeemer did whatever it took to release his people from slavery. This redemption was however forward pointing. What God had done for Abraham’s family, He would do for the rest of humanity. He had said earlier to Abraham, I will bless you and through you all the nations of the world would be blessed. If he had redeemed the nation of Israel then surely he would redeem the families of the earth too. But from what are we to be redeemed?

When humanity sinned in the Garden of Eden, not only did we break a direct command of God, we acquired a new nature. This new nature continues to perpetuate the acts of rebellion against God we see all around us. Because of this nature we can’t help but commit acts of evil. Even when we know the right thing to do we cannot seem to find the power to do good. It holds us in a prison like a slave master (Pharaoh) refusing to let us go. Like the Prophet Isaiah says; “we are all infected and impure with sin…” (Isa 64:6 NLT). This nature of sin also makes us guilty and liable to the consequence of sin; DEATH. Also when God finally gave the nation of Israel the Law to help keep them in check till the coming of the Messiah, the nature of sin prevented them from living by it. This further compounded the problem because whereas compliance to the law brought life and blessing to its adherents, it also brought death and a curse to those who failed to keep it. This curse is what the bible calls The Curse of the Law. As we can see humanity now has to be set free from the power of Sin, death and the curse of the law.

Fast forward in the New Testament we are presented with Jesus, God in the flesh. In Jesus, God takes upon and shares in our humanity. He becomes our kinsman. But he does so in order to redeem us. He walks the streets of Galilee, Jerusalem and Judea healing the sick, casting out devils from people and preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. His message was that in his coming God had ushered in his rule and was going to restore humanity to their original state.

In settling a dispute amongst his disciples one day, with regards to who will be the greatest, Jesus reveals his life’s mission. In Matthew chapter 20:27-28 we read;

And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

He came to give his life as a ransom for the many. The Greek root word translated ransom in this text is the word “Lutroo”. It is sometimes translated as redeem or redemption depending on the context. It approximates the Hebrew word ga’al which we have already looked at. What Jesus was saying is that in giving his life, he was acting as a kinsman redeemer ready to pay the price for the freedom of all. Another word translated in the New Testament as redeem or redemption is the word “agorazo”. It literally means to go to the market to buy. In Greek the word for market (particularly slave markets) is the word agora. Agorazo paints a picture of one going to a slave market and paying the price to effect the release of the slave. In his death on the cross Jesus Christ became the ransom prize. He entered into the slave market of sin and though he himself knew no sin he was ready to pay for our release. He paid with his very life to free us from the effects of our rebellion. He freed us from death by dying in our place. And with the price for sin fully paid, sin no longer has power over those who put their faith in him. According to the Jewish law, anyone who died on a tree was a cursed man. In his death on the cross (tree) Jesus also took upon himself the curse so that we would be free from the curse of the law. The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus did this so that those who believe in him would receive the blessing of Abraham.

Galatians 3:13-14

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

In Jesus Christ, God now our kinsman redeemer has set us free. Redemption is freedom. It is freedom from the power of sin. It is freedom from death and it is freedom from every curse of the law resulting from our disobedience. And this redemption is in Christ. Jesus is so central to our freedom that Paul calls Him our redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Today like always we present to you Jesus Christ, our kinsman redeemer and our redemption. He freely offers this freedom to all who in loyal obedience and submission would submit their lives to him.

What is your response?

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The New King James Version (NKJV).

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